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Premium Upgrades – Markell Jones & Matt Closson – Our BMX

Words with the latest additions to the Premium team, Markell Jones and Matt Closson.

Matt and Markell, spot plotting with Chad Kerley. (All photos: Kevin Conners)

I was a fan before I was a friend to either Markell Jones or Matt Closson. And I saw both of them ride for the first time the old fashioned way, in person. The first time I saw Matt Closson ride was at the Don of the Streets Jam in NYC hosted by Austin Augie. It was complete madness, most of the spots we went to were banger spots that were overcrowded with bikes, bodies, cameras and Austin on the blowhorn telling you that if you weren’t bringing the heat to just sit your ass down and enjoy the show. In that maze of madness, one rider completely annihilated every spot we went to and did the most technical and burly shit while dodging flying bikes and NYC traffic—and that one rider was Matt Closson. I put a hundred on it that no one present that day would disagree with me on that statement. Matt simply shut the streets down and won the jam. I saw Markell ride in person for the first time at a Golden Days Jam in Long Beach, CA. He was on the mic most of the time helping host the jam, but there was this one moment in between some of the jam events when most the riders were taking a break and the cameras were down. Markell picked up his bike, and without any kind of warm up, sprinted towards the box jump. I wasn’t paying attention when he flew past me, but almost getting hit while zoning out is what got me to spin around just in time to see Markell float the fattest 540 over the box jump, landing perfectly full-speed fakie and stomping it without even the slightest bobble. He didn’t tell anyone he was going to do it. He didn’t do it for the clip, he didn’t do it for Insta, he just sent a legit banger out of the blue, just for BMX. That’s when I knew Markell was for real. Both Markell and Matt come from completely different scenes and they have their own styles. But they have some key things in common, too—both being honestly good people, who bust their asses for BMX, shredding the streets and everything else. Both in BMX for the love, not the fame. And for both—Markell Jones and Matt Closson—we are beyond hyped to have as welcomed new team members of Premium BMX. —Joey Cobbs / Premium TM

Congrats for getting on Premium. What’s the back story, how did the opportunity come about?
Honestly, I had a short conversation with Chad about the team and days later Joey [Cobbs] hit me up and we talked about everything.

Have you had much interaction with any of the team prior to getting on?
Yes, actually I knew every one of my new teammates prior to getting on the team so it was actually a very natural move when I was added.

A heavy list of riders have ridden for Premium in the past, including Garrett Reynolds, Josh Harrington, Sean Ricany, JJ Palmere, and so on… How does it feel to be part of brand with such an impressive alumni?
It’s unreal! My first complete bike ever was a Premium complete and I literally never imagined this, so it’s incredible how it came about without thought.  I feel like it’s an honor to be able to carry on the name with such heavy riders in a different time of riding.

Premium is picking up the pace and making moves again… adding Colin Varanyak, then you and Closson, followed by the trip to San Jose. What are your thoughts on getting involved with the brand during this new trajectory?
I think that what the brand is doing is completely right by adding new members to the roster and putting out a great video to announce it. Definitely big plans with this squad on the rise.

Let’s talk about the San Jose trip… Have you been to San Jose before? And how was it getting in the van and mixing it up with the Premium squad?
Never been up to San Jose or anywhere up that way so it was a great introduction for me. New team and new spots—I loved it. Getting in a van has been that dream since I was a kid and all the guys are so cool it was very smooth talking to everyone on the way up to San Jose and back.

Escalating pegs to 180 on this dream obstacle.

What where some of the highlights of the trip for you? Both on and off the bike?
San Jose is truly an entire highlight—it was like a giant skatepark in my eyes—just spots everywhere. Just being there was the best feeling. Off the bike I’d say beating the team in Call of Duty mobile was the highlight for sure! And I’d do it again…

You headed out to NYC earlier this year with Jarren Barboza. What did you get into out here?
Me and Jarren went out and filmed a Instagram video for the Volume team and really we just talked about our plans moving forward and what we were working towards with our careers.

And coming from someone who grew up in Long Beach/LA area, what’s your perspective on New York—both for riding and just life in general…
New York has always felt like the opposite of Los Angeles in my eyes. We talk different, ride different, and we live different. I’ve loved the scene out there since I started riding and I always knew I had to get out there and see it for myself.

Tell us about your Long Beach roots, spots you grew up riding, who you rode/ride with?
Born in raised in Long Beach and my local spot was really Houghton skatepark—most people knew it as the Graffiti Park. I used to ride with some local kids in a group called “natives,” yet most of the kids are no longer riding—I almost feel like the last man standing. My cousin Antwaun is the first person I started with, though, and thankfully he’s still riding with me till this day.

Markell getting spun out over this one-of-kind San Jose street find.

What’s your typical day out riding nowadays? You mix it up with the Peep Game mostly, right?
Yes, mostly my Sundays consist of riding with the Peep Game posse and filming for a DVD we’ve got in the works—so stay tuned!

While it’s not as easy to make plans with all of the current uncertainties, what are you looking forward to this year?
I’d like to travel and I’d like to branch into different areas of my skills. That’s a broad statement, but it’s a broad thought still so I can’t really elaborate on it more until I really figure out what I want to do.

Other than Colin Varanyak, who’s already your teammate on Fiend, have you had much interaction with the rest of the team?
Yeah, for sure. I grew up in San Diego so I met Chad at Clairemont skatepark over 10 years ago. He was already killing it at such a young age. I met Mike Gray back in 2012, I was riding for Diamondback and the TM said they were going to fly this dude out from Canada to see if he fit in with the crew. It was Mike, and of course he asked to join the squad. I don’t think there’s anyone on the squad I wasn’t already cool with.

You and Markell joined the squad at the same time, have you had much interaction with Markell previous to this?
I don’t remember exactly when I met Markell, but I’ve known him a few years now. I met him through Steve and the PeepGame dudes. It’s cool being able to vibe out with a dude almost 10 years younger than you. He also won every game of COD mobile on the San Jose trip, and is okay at tooth hangers.

Words with Premium's latest team additions, Markell Jones and Matt Closson.
The setup + trick equation always equals awesome with Closson.

What’s the back story, how did you end up on Premium, anyhow?
Pretty random, but there was a jam in Long Beach last year and Joey Cobbs came up to me with the offer. He went over the idea and who they were also planning to put on the team. I reached out to Colin, and he also liked the idea. It seemed like a good fit for me and so far it’s been awesome.

A heavy list of riders have ridden for Premium in the past, including Garrett Reynolds, Josh Harrington, Sean Ricany, JJ Palmere, and so on… How does it feel to be part of brand with such an impressive alumni?
Man, what a crazy list. I don’t even know how to feel about that [laughs]. I think it’s cool at 31 for Premium to reach out to me and give me some new opportunities to be more involved in the BMX industry. I feel like a lot of kids that aren’t sponsored or whatever at a certain age get out of BMX. As I have gotten older my appreciation for BMX, and the people I have met from this, has only grown. I have to give a huge shout out to the Premium OG Ryan Mills, he’s the man.

Adding Colin back in November, and then you and Markell, followed by taking this trip… Premium is picking up the pace and making moves again. What are your thoughts on getting involved with the brand during this new trajectory?
I’m hyped to be part of the new Premium squad. They’ve already reached out to me and the other guys for so much input on the new parts. We also plan on linking up and doing projects consistently, which is my favorite thing to do. I really like the image and direction they are taking Premium, and I am excited to be part of it.

Upstream gap to tires.

Let’s talk about the San Jose trip… Other than hosting the Fiend dudes out in Vegas, was that your first proper road trip since COVID started? And how was it, first time mixing it up with the Premium squad
I did the Source BOTB trip last year in August. We spent the week in San Diego, which was just starting to open back up from the first shut downs. It can be hard to do some things, but I honestly think COVID made riding street easier. Most places are shut down, and not as many people out. I even feel like the cops mellowed out for the most part. Being welcomed to the team with a road trip was perfect, I felt like part of the family from the first second. We have all known each other for years, so it just felt like being on a trip with the homies.

What where some of the highlights of the trip for you? Both on and off the bike?
Off the bike, the highlights were definitely the antics and shit talk between the crew. With everyone being so close, someone is always roasting someone or giving someone shit. It’s continuous jokes with the dudes. On the bike, would be the session we had on the crazy snake head box jump thing. We randomly found the spot after getting dinner. It was freezing outside, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ride a spot like that we had never seen in any video. I felt like a kid the whole session, it really reminded me of why I love BMX so much.

Vegas has been a hot-spot for visiting BMX teams over the past few months. What’s it like seeing so many sick riders pass through town and ride your local spots?
Showing people spots in Vegas is one of my favorite things. I love watching shit go down on spots I ride all the time, or even better is seeing someone handle something you never even thought of. The last few months have been really fun, and having teams come through hypes up the local scene a lot. If you come out to Vegas hit me up!

What’s the Vegas scene like on the local nowadays?
The Vegas scene is awesome right now. It’s not a huge scene, but we’re all really close and have a good crew of dudes that meet up. It’s a really good mix of older guys and young homies that are shredding. I like to throw a couple jams a year to bring everyone together. We also have an awesome DIY running right now that has been getting people out to ride and build stuff. There’s a lot of skate park shredders out here too that stay low key, but almost every park you go to will have some guys ripping around the bowls.

Closson, spotting his landing mid-cab.

With Premium and Fiend centered in San Diego, could you see yourself making the out there at some point?
Oh man, San Diego is home to me. I lived there until I was 15, and I can definitely see myself living there again. When I was younger the only downfall was no skateparks, but now they are all over. If I found myself in a position to make that move, I would go back to San Diego.

While it’s not as easy to make plans with all of the current uncertainties, what are you looking forward to this year?
I’m looking forward to linking up with the Premium and Fiend dudes this year. We are already planning the next Premium trip, which is dope. I’ll probably head down to SD a couple times and hang out with everyone down there. I also like working on a video part, I think it helps keep me sane. Off the bike, just spending time with my girl and my dog. I work a lot, so time management and appreciating each moment I’m not at work is key. I plan on keeping this ball rolling and making moves. Shout out to everyone who supports me and to all my homies! BMX is tight.

Check out Markell, Matt, and the rest of the Premium squad as they take over San Jose…


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thehuntbmx

Just a BMX rider making a website that compiles all the BMX news into one source. Live to ride, not surf the web.

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